Besides an overnight trip to Washington D.C. and a couple of nights in Boston, all of my four weeks in USA were spent in New York. New York is such a large city, I still feel like I only saw a portion of it during my time there. My favourite thing about the city is definitely the variety of different people you can meet on the streets, and the different shops and restaurants in every single corner. Also, navigating in New York is really easy. On Manhattan, the streets are named by numbers that increase the further north you go. Numbered avenues run from east to west. The subway is easy too, just head north with the uptown train or south with the downtown one. It’s really easy to adapt to New York. It’s strange, I had never been there, but as soon as I landed at JFK Airport, it felt like coming home.
Below are some highlights of my time in one of my favorite cities in the world.
Even though Washington D.C. is the capital of USA, many people (especially Americans) advised me not to go there. Washington D.C. apparently does not have the best reputation (it was called the murder capital in the 90’s due to a high rate of crime and violence). But since I was only a five hour bus ride away, I decided to make a short visit to the country’s capital. Because you never know when I’ll be back on the continent!
I used the same bus company that I traveled to Boston with, Megabus. Megabus offers cheap tickets to several cities in USA and Canada. I bought the tickets last minute, so the round trip from New York set me back $42.
After walking around the National Gallery of Art for a couple of hours and barely seeing half of it, I checked in to my hostel, International House of Washington. One night in six bed dorm cost $22.
In the evening I returned to the National Mall. The Smithsonian Museums close already at 5.30 pm, so I took the opportunity to look at famous buildings and monuments instead.
I was going to visit some other museum as well, but the Air and Space museum was so interesting that I spent four hours there! So unfortunately I didn’t have time for any more sightseeing in Washington D.C. before my bus back to New York was leaving.
Washington D.C. is a good city for anyone who likes museums! In addition to the 19 free Smithsonian Museums, there are several other museums dedicated to topics such as news or espionage. The museums are really big, so I would recommend focusing on one or two per day.
I love not having set plans while traveling. This way I can pick up tips on where to go and what to do from locals as well as other travelers. While travelling through East-Central Europe I met so many people who recommended Boston to me so I decided to spend a few days there. Boston is one of the oldest cities in USA and the site of many important events in American history.
The bus company Megabus operates between dozens of large cities in USA. If you’re lucky and buy your ticket far in advance, you can pay as little as $1 for a one way bus ticket. I bought my tickets a couple of weeks ahead of time and found tickets from New York to Boston for $5 one way. Buying bus tickets in advance does limit your travels, in case you want to stay somewhere longer. But an unused $5 bus ticket anyone can live with. I ended up leaving Boston earlier than planned and only payed $12 for my new bus ticket anyway. The trip from New York to Boston takes five hours (unless there is an accident on the road and your bus stands still on the highway for three hours…).
I couchsurfed in Somerville, an area North West of the city centre. Once again, I had a great couchsurfing experience. Not only did I meet my host, her friend, her roommate and three cool cats (two of them named after Finns), but there were two other couchsurfers staying at the apartment, so there was always someone to talk to.
On my first day in Boston, I visited the annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, where I basically got a free lunch from all the samples they were giving out. Afterwards my host took me around Boston and in the evening she cooked a tasty seafood stew.
Boston is a big university city, with dozens of universities around town. I visited Harvard and participated in the free tour led by a Harvard student.
As Boston is such an old city, I think it’s the best starting point for a better understanding of American history.
When my friend Ina and I were in our early twenties, we made a pact: we would visit New York together before we turn thirty. This year, after many years of dreaming about it, we finally followed through with our pact. Ina’s boyfriend Daniel and my sister Pia joined us for an exciting week in the Big Apple. We booked our accommodation through AirBNB. Eight nights in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn cost 1500 €.
This blog post is hard to write because New York makes me speechless. I can’t count the times I’ve been moved, delighted and amazed by this place. New York is hands down the most incredible city I have ever visited. I wish I’d come sooner.
John also introduced me to Whole Foods. Oh. My. Goodness. I could write an entire blog post about this supermarket chain. Best store I have ever visited. Whole Foods has an unbelievably large variety of fresh food, the only problem is knowing when to stop filling your basket…
New York is a massive city, and especially popular among tourists, so it’s easy to find a free walking tour. As the city is so big, the tours are usually built around a theme or a certain part of town. We participated in the SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown tour organized by Free Tours by Foot.
Our tour guide recommended that we enter the Broadway Lottery. Many theatres organize raffles, where approximately 30 tickets are sold at a fraction of their normal cost. At the recommendation of our tour guide, we entered the raffle for the Wednesday matinée show of Kinky Boots. Usually, there are less people than tickets so basically everybody wins! Tickets usually cost closer to $200, but by winning the raffle, you can purchase tickets for $37. Kinky Boots was one of the highlights of our week in New York – it was such a funny, spectacular and over-the-top show!